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Cornish tickbox for 2011 UK census campaign update

It seems that there are no plans to include a Cornish tick box option on the 2011 UK census; Mebyon Kernow provide full details here

There will be tick boxes for English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and British. Those wishing to record themselves as Cornish will need to tick the ‘Other’ box and write in Cornish. This comes after the previous census were around 37,000 people wrote in Cornish after being first forced to deny their Britishness.

The Celtic League suggests that to boycott the census would be the most appropriate response and, whilst I can understand their anger, is this the most effective way forward?

If mass civil disobedience was on the cards with thousands across the Duchy refusing to fill out the census then perhaps, but is this going to happen? A small group of determined but ultimately ignorable individuals refusing the census will serve no purpose whatsoever.

I stand to be corrected and I'm open to other points of view on this.

Some other ideas passed to me by colleagues are as follows.

The first thing is to ascertain that the Cornish code remains on the data base so that those who identify as Cornish will be recorded as such.

The second is to ask what significant concerns there were in Wales about the lack of recognition of 'Welsh' as a separate ethnic group that differed from those raised in Cornwall, and whether it is simply a matter of numbers. What qualifying criteria merit giving the Welsh a tick-box that does not apply to the Cornish.

The third is to seek the support of the Welsh Government for the Cornish case.

The fourth is to enlist the active support of the Cornish MPs to engage with ONS to press for a review of the White Paper position - this should include a meeting with the Home Secretary.

It is folly to refuse to complete the census - firstly, because nobody will take any notice; secondly, it will reduce the number of Cornish responders; thirdly, it is too early in the game to be taking such an entrenched and defeated position. What matters is the Parliamentary Order, not the White Paper. This is the moment to exert positive, constructive pressure via MPs and the Unitary Authority.

In the end, the real criteria for determining the value of census data is whether there is a demand for the data once it is collected. Therefore, looking at page 49 of the White Paper, paragraph 3.53 lists a number of benefits of ethnic data. A polite, constructive and engaging question to all public service providers in Cornwall should ascertain the extent to which they place value upon understanding the needs of those people who describe themselves as 'Cornish' and to follow this up with a request for them to indicate to the ONS that they will find Cornish data useful, and will purchase it.

We could also press the new Unitary Authority to undertake to market the method for ticking OTHER and writing in Cornish, as ONS did in Wales in 2001 - which only produced a similar result to that achieved in Cornwall. One key point to put to the ONS is that their method (tick OTHER etc) produces a return which errs by a factor of 1:5 - this happened in both Cornwall and Wales in 2001). It is surely important for the credibility of the census that returns accurately reflect the real position; otherwise this may raise questions about the accuracy of other parts of the Census.

A constructive suggestion could be that the Welsh version of the form could be circulated in Cornwall with an alteration to the tick-box descriptor - perhaps Cornwall council might be prevailed upon to support the cost of this very minor change at the printers!

Additionally this has been passed to me:

Census outputs online consultation and blog - the next phase

The online Census Output consultation is back with a second phase based around a new website. The pilot website supported an online survey for which we received completed responses from over 500 people or organizations. We will soon be publishing the full results from the survey on the new website in stages.

Using the blog on the new website we aim to

- publish results and analysis of the online survey
- provide commentary and Census views on the findings
- allow you provide specific user feedback to Census views
- allow you to suggest topics that are new and related that you want to see discussed
- continue further detailed discussions raised in the associated forum section

As well as the blog and forum, we also hope users will edit and contribute new content as part of the Census Output wiki section. This allows both the Census Offices and Census users to contribute in a collaborative approach to developing a store of metadata and information about the Census and the output from it. Specific areas can be developed over time, including but not limited to, an initial glossary style definitions section.

How to view and join the site

The new website can be found using the same web address:

If you have bookmarks which linked to deep subsections of the old website these are no longer valid. Similarly if you were registered with the old site, and wish to log in to the new one, you will need to re-register.

Anyone can view most areas of this site, but joining and logging in lets you contribute, either by adding comments to specific pages, replying to or starting forum threads, editing existing page content, or authoring new pages. Joining also provides benefits such as regular email alerts with news about significant site additions and updates.

You can find out how to join here:

We hope users will find this continued online approach to consultation useful and appropriate, and encourage users to join and contribute freely to all areas of the site. Continued and engaged use and contributions from users will help to inform us in making decisions about continuing the online approach in the future, and all feedback from users and suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

1 comment:

jmb said...

Seasons greetings to you.